Hawarden farmer thrilled to be in ewe hogget final after three years of drought

The objective of the competition is to select the flock replacements that are likely to be more productive and ...
Diane Bishop

The objective of the competition is to select the flock replacements that are likely to be more productive and profitable over their lifetime.

Richard Power of Hawarden says he is "definitely pleased" to be awarded one of the two spots in the romney section of the New Zealand Ewe Hogget Competition.

"What was especially pleasing was that we have been through three years of drought and still been able to come out the other end and get hoggets that have the ability to stand up to the rest of them," he said.

"We are thrilled to be where we are but don't want to go mouthing off before the finals are announced."

Family affair: Quentin (left), John and Peter (right) Withell from Brookside are sheep and mixed cropping farmers at ...
Tim Cronshaw

Family affair: Quentin (left), John and Peter (right) Withell from Brookside are sheep and mixed cropping farmers at Raywell farm.

Power said he looked for structural soundness, true-to-type romneys and good production in his hogget flock.

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The judges looked at most of their ewe hogget flock in the yards, he said.

"You have to have 80 per cent of the flock - you can cull 20 per cent. We had 95 per cent."

"You have to open your books to the judges and have proof of record as far as lambs killed and lamb weights, and show the financials to back up what you are saying."

His flock also placed well in the local A&P show hogget competition, he said.

"The other interesting thing was that my brother down in Etterick also made the finals. Neither of us knew the other was going to enter."

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Only two of the 11 finalists in the ewe hogget competition were from Canterbury.  The remainder were eight finalists from Otago and one from Waikato.

Peter Withell of Raywell Farm, Brookside was the other Cantabrian and was one of two finalists in the crossbred section.

It was quite interesting going through the judging process, he said.

"There were three judges and a convener and it was very challenging because they wanted to know why we did what we did and how it integrated into the farm system and why we had the flock the way it was."

"It created a lot of discussion afterwards and I think the judges went away having a discussion as well because we are a bit outside of the norm," Withell said.

"We aren't a traditional sheep and beef property and because of the intensity of irrigated arable mixed farming in Canterbury, we have a lot more options. We grow crops for feed as well as traditional wheat and grass seed and clover. 

"So the sheep have to fit in with the system. We don't usually make hoggets because of the way the farm system is. It is geared around maximising the returns from the arable production. Making hoggets is just one of the options.

"There is going to be a shortage of sheep in the country and we decided we would do that this year.

"I think the judges saw an evenness in our sheep. And flock production and lambing percentage were the key."

The winners of the sections, along with the supreme champion, will be announced at a formal dinner in Cromwell on June 8.

National convener Stephen Rabbidge said the judges travelled from Tuakau, in Waikato, to Invercargill, to look at hogget flocks.

"The objective of the competition is to select the flock replacements that are likely to be more productive and profitable over their lifetime."

They assessed romneys, coopworths, fine-wool flocks, crossbreds, perendales and composites.

"We looked at 28 flocks as part of the national final, and for the whole competition, there were about 150,000 hoggets entered," Rabbidge said.

Flocks were judged on production (50 marks), flock phenotype (physical characteristics and if true to type, 20 marks), wool quality (15) and breeding objective (15).

The supreme champion will win a prize package valued at $10,000.

Judging had been more difficult than in previous years as there were more flocks at the "top end,"said Rabbidge.

"The bar gets lifted every year."

 - Stuff

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